Tough times bring change. The latest tough time has ushered in a way for sellers to connect with customers. "How do I sell virtually?" seems to be the most common question asked by salespeople. Sellers are forced to use new technology to stay connected as they work remotely and socially-distance from customers. This recent pandemic was unlike any other tough time in our history. The tectonic shift to virtual selling was a rough transition for many sellers. Although the virtual environment is different, the principles of selling remain the same whether you're in front of a screen or a person. The transition has been tough, but it's also created opportunity.
My training company has tracked face-to-face selling activity for the past 40 years. Over that time, face-to-face selling activity has dropped 60 percent. People have been selling virtually for decades; it's nothing new. It's just new to a few sellers. Take comfort in knowing that selling principles are the same whether face to face or screen to screen. The selling skills generating your previous success generate virtual success.
Although virtual selling is new to many sellers, it's created more opportunity than struggle. Sellers use the virtual selling environment to stand out from the competition leveraging technology to differentiate the virtual experience. Other sellers take advantage of less windshield time, becoming more productive. Sellers are engaging additional decision-makers and involving them earlier in the selling process. A new selling environment coupled with new technology has created new opportunities. Tough times are good! Here are a few tips to help you succeed virtually
Control your process
Control what you can control; don't let what you can't control distract you. The same is true for virtual selling. Sellers were forced into this new environment triggering an emotional response. Sellers lamented, "How can I sell my solution if I cannot meet face to face? I'll never be able to sell this complex solution virtually." Or "The customer will never buy if we cannot meet face to face." This is more reflective of a poor attitude versus a skills gap. Your attitude toward virtually selling drives behavior. Virtual selling is an equalizer event. You face the same challenges your competitors face.
Answer these two questions to objectively view your selling process: What selling activities can I accomplish virtually? What selling activities must happen in person? The list of what you can accomplish will be longer than the list of what you can't accomplish. Focus on what you can control; don't lose sleep over what you cannot control.
Create a professional virtual experience
Buyers want to work with professional sellers. The virtual selling environment creates another outlet to demonstrate your professionalism. Take full advantage of this outlet.
Curating a space is like setting up the scene in a play. The background matters, the lighting matters, and so does the sound. Background, lighting, sound, and internet connection are the four main ingredients of creating a professional virtual environment.
A simple, organized background goes a long way. View the world through your customer's eyes and their screen. Set up your workspace and be aware of what the customer can see in the periphery. Your workspace should be organized and professional.
Proceed with caution when selecting virtual backgrounds. Busy backgrounds are distracting. The same is true for the novelty backgrounds of the beach, ocean, or Tiger King. The green-screen tech is okay, just keep it professional, simple, and organized. A blank background with your logo or your customer's logo is suitable.
Equally important is the camera angle. Adjust your camera to produce a flattering camera angle. Keep the camera at or slightly above eye level. The lower the camera, the more chins they see. There are several ways to keep it eye level. Use a stack of books or purchase a laptop stand. However, you do it, just keep it eye level.
Lighting is important. Natural light works great to keep your face illuminated. However, avoid placing your back to the window. This blacks out your face, giving the impression you are in the witness protection program. Direct a light source to your face. Illuminating your face makes the video more realistic. With an illuminated face, the buyer can see your emotions. Record a video conference and tweak your lighting to determine the best setup.
The right sound is critical on a video call. A well-orchestrated background doesn't matter if the buyer can't hear you. What you say looms larger than what they see. Nothing frustrates a buyer more than poor audio, whether your audio is scratchy, breaks in and out, or is drowned out by background noise. Quality sound begins with a quality microphone. Invest in the right tools.
"Can you hear me now?" The most despised words on any call. How frustrating is it when you're talking on your mobile device, the phone breaks up, and you lose your signal? It's just as frustrating when your screen freezes or you lose your internet connection. If you're working from home, reach out to your provider for upgrade options. Consider where you set up your virtual space or your wireless router. The closer you are to the router, the better the signal. It's also important to minimize the number of devices connected to your Wi-Fi. The more devices, the slower your speed.
If you have ever conducted a product demonstration, you understand the value of preparation. Before demoing a product, familiarize yourself with it. The same applies when using technology to sell your solution. Repetition generates confidence and competence for sellers. It might be the first time the customer experiences your virtual presentation, but it shouldn't be the first time you experience it. Professionals prepare.
A successful virtual call begins with confidence in your tools. Get comfortable with the technology. The novelty of virtual meetings has worn off. It's no longer funny when you unintentionally mute yourself, show up late, wear your pajamas, accidentally share your screen, or cannot get the tech to work. Familiarize yourself with the technology before the meeting. Create an experience that stands out from your competition.
Nothing says more about your professionalism than your appearance. The first impression is not created through your words but through your appearance. Dress for the results you desire. Dress how you would normally appear to the customer. If you wear a suit, then wear a suit. If you dress casually, then dress casually. Just be professional.
Tough times create new opportunities. Virtual selling is one of those opportunities. Sellers embracing this temporary shift have packed their tool chest with more ways to sell effectively. This new shift has created new opportunities, but the principles of selling and persuasion remain constant. Approach this new shift with the right mindset and the right tools.
Paul Reilly is a speaker, sales trainer, co-author of Value-Added Selling, fourth edition (McGraw-Hill, 2018), and host of The Q and A Sales Podcast. For additional information on Paul’s keynote presentations and seminars, call 636-778-0175 or email Paul@ReillySalesTraining.com. Visit www.TomReillyTraining.com and signup for their free newsletter.